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Remembering The Fallen Soldiers of both sides of the war that defined America
“The Battle Hymn of The Republic” & “Dixie” in Greenburgh: Honoring The Fallen Soldiers of both sides of the war that defined America
By: Riley Wentzler and Felicia Barber
When the United States of America was founded in 1776, it was an agrarian confederation of essentially thirteen distinct sovereign nations that were the thirteen colonies of: Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia. The unicameral federal government which presided over this loose confederation of states was so weak that it had no executive branch at all and could not even coin money. The army was poorly trained and ill-equipped and the navy was not much better. Even the best army in the world at that time, which was the British Army, could only arm its infantry with swords and flint-lock muskets. Mass communication did not exist, so it took weeks and sometimes months for messages to be delivered using mounted couriers.
Now let’s fast forward to 2020. The United States of America is now an industrial nation, the once weak federal government now has influence over almost every area in American Life, America’s Military which no longer uses muskets and swords, but instead uses machine guns, tanks, airplanes and drones, is now the best in the world. Communication is almost instantaneous.
How did we get here from there? What was our major turning point? Historians have debated the answer to this question for decades. Some say The Great Depression, others say World War II, and others say The Civil War. While there is some merit to the first two answers, one must remember that it was shortly before the Civil War that the interchangeable parts which led to our machine guns and tanks were invented, it was also during this time that the telegraph which first sped up the speed of our communication was invented. Lastly it was on the blood-soaked battlefields of the Civil War that the federal government asserted its ultimate sovereignty over the states.
The war has often been called “The Brother War” because it was brother against brother. This was as true for Greenburgh as it was for the nation as whole. Some of Greenburgh’s fallen soldiers of the Civil War wore blue and sang “The Battle Hymn of The Republic,” others who were buried at Mt Hope Cemetery in Hastings, wore gray and sang “Dixie”. Memorial Day began as a tribute to Union Civil War veterans. Therefore, it is only fitting that on this Memorial Day, we pause for a moment to remember fallen soldiers on both sides of this conflict. We do not celebrate those who fought against the Union- only remember this sad time in American history. Greenburgh’s Union and Confederate dead are buried only 1.5 miles apart (http://www.howtogetfrom.com/route-from-hastings-on- hudson-ny-to-dobbs-ferry-ny ). Greenburgh’s Union Veterans are buried in the Little White Church Cemetery in Dobbs Ferry whereas Confederate Veterans are buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Hastings.
The final resting place of most of Greenburgh’s Union Veterans is located on 43 Ashford Avenue in Dobbs Ferry, on nearly 3 acres of land (DiLorenzo 2019). This is
the Little White Church Cemetery. This cemetery was founded in 1823 (DiLorenzo 2019).
Now we are engaged in a great civil war…We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. (Abraham Lincoln November 19, 1863)
President Lincoln had it right in his “Gettysburg Address,” Civil War veterans do indeed consecrate any ground they are buried in. For that reason a plaque was dedicated to their memory and placed in the cemetery in 1904, and it is also for that reason that in 1991 it was added to Westchester County’s Inventory of Historic Places. Here are the stories of just a few of the Union veterans buried there:
General James Bowen was born in 1808. On October 11th, 1862, he enlisted in the Union Army (Veterans’ Cemetery Index, Service Card of Brigadier General James Bowen, found at the Westchester County Archives). Unlike most soldiers fighting for both the Union and the Confederacy which were either, West Point graduates in the case of officers, or combat veterans of the Mexican War, in the case of most enlisted men, James Bowen had no previous military training or experience prior to his civil war service. He was made a Brigadier General solely because of his close friendship with President Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward (Raftery 2011, p. 27).
This may strike readers as odd, however making people generals not based on their skill in combat, but based instead on their political connections was President Abraham Lincoln’s habit. This very bad habit of Lincoln’s nearly cost the Union the war. Even the West-Point educated Generals in Chief of the Union Army: General Winfield Scott (in command July 5, 1841-November 1, 1861), General George B. McClellan (in command November 2, 1861 - March 11, 1862) and General Henry W. Halleck (in command July 23, 1862 - March 9, 1864) lacked actual combat experience and were appointed based on their close friendship with President Lincoln. For example, General Henry W. Halleck was a military scholar during the Mexican War whose most significant contribution to the war effort was translating Jomini’s Vie Politique et Militair, a book on military tactics written by Napoleon, into English (https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/henry-w-halleck), and General George B. McClellan was also involved in the Mexican War, in a non-combat role. He was part of the Army Corps of Engineers (https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/george-b-mcclellan). Only after many costly defeats, did Abraham Lincoln finally see the error of his ways and put General Ulysses S. Grant who had fought in the Battle of Shiloh and led troops in that engagement, in charge. This was not until March of 1864 (Grant 1885, p.
Returning to Bowen, he did not serve in combat, instead he was the Provost Marshall of New Orleans from 1862-1864. He was honorably discharged on July 27th, 1864, and died on September 29th, 1886 (Veterans’ Cemetery Index, Service Card of Brigadier General James Bowen, found at the Westchester County Archives).
This soldier’s records are incomplete, but here is what we do know based on his service Card. He was born sometime in 1833 in New York City. On April 25th, 1861, he enlisted in the Union Army. During the First Battle of Bull Run, which took place July 16th-22nd 1861, he took part in the Occupation of Arlington Heights. He was honorably discharged from the Union Army on August 7th, 1861. He died on October 6th, 1880(Veterans’ Cemetery Index, Service Card of Captain Geraidus P. Hillman, found at the Westchester County Archives).
This soldier’s records are also incomplete. He was born sometime in 1818 at an unknown location. He enlisted on August 3rd 1862. He fought in the Battle of the Wilderness on May 5–7, 1864. Perhaps it was there that he lost interest in land warfare, and felt the call of the sea, because while his discharge from the military isn’t recorded, his transfer from the Union Army to The United States Navy is. He died on February 22, 1887(Veterans’ Cemetery Index, Service Card of Private Isaac Taylor, found at the Westchester County Archives).
This soldier’s records are also incomplete. He was born sometime in 1836 at an unknown location. He enlisted on August 21st, 1862. He fought in The Mine Run Campaign in Orange County Virginia (November 27 - December 2, 1863). He did not survive the campaign, but he wasn’t killed in combat. He died on May 7th, 1863 in Harpers Ferry, Virginia of disease (Veterans’ Cemetery Index, Service Card of Private William O’Brien, found at the Westchester County Archives). During the Civil War, Harpers Ferry was in Western Virginia, the only part of the state loyal to the Union. Today that part of what was Virginia is now the State of West Virginia.
This soldier’s records are also incomplete. He was born sometime in 1844 in an unknown location. He enlisted on August 22nd, 1862, the day after William
O’Brien. Since they were in the same regiment, and enlisted a day apart, and were only one rank apart, chances are high that they knew each other. He fought in the Assault on Petersburg, on June 15-18, 1864 and in The Battle of Cold Harbor from May 31 - June 12, 1864. His date of death is unknown as is the precise cause, but it is certain that he did not die in combat because the Civil War ended on April 9, 1865 and his date of discharge was June 28th, 1865 (Veterans’ Cemetery Index, Service Card of Corporal John McGullough found at the Westchester County Archives).
This soldier’s records are also incomplete. He was born sometime in 1838 in New York City. He enlisted on May 9th, 1861. He was wounded in action at the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5th, 1862. He was honorably discharged on October 7th, 1862 (Veterans’ Cemetery Index, Service Card of Private Charles O’Brien found at the Westchester County Archives). All details about his death are unknown.
1.5 miles away, on 50 Jackson Avenue Hastings-On-Hudson, NY stands another well-loved historic cemetery (http://www.mounthopecemetery.com/visit- us.html).
This is Mount Hope Cemetery and it was founded in 1886 (http://www.mounthopecemetery.com/burial--cremation.html). There stands is a 60-foot-tall obelisk built in 1897.
The wording of an inscription on one side of the obelisk reads “Sacred to the memory of the Heroic Dead of the Confederate Veteran Camp of New York.”
It is here at Mount Hope Cemetery that Greenburgh’s Confederate dead are buried. In all there are 40 Confederate veterans buried here, all of whom, came to New York after the Civil War and became well respected citizens in the New York Metropolitan Area (https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.lohud.com/amp/575772001). One of these Confederate Veterans was General Thomas Jordan, originally a Virginia native, who established the Financial and Mining Record in New York
(https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.lohud.com/amp/575772001, https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/civil-war-spies). Another was a Jewish -Confederate soldier, Private Eugene H. Levy, originally a native of Louisiana, who owned a book store in New York City (https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.lohud.com/amp/575772001,https://www. newspapers.com/clip/404964/eugene_henry_levy_csa_army_of_n_va/).
This is an edited version of an article that was posted earlier today. As civic leader Dan Weinfeld correctly pointed out "Memorial Day was created shortly after the Civil War to honor the Union’s 350,000 plus fallen soldiers and later to include our nations fallen from subsequent wars. Memorial Day is reserved to honor soldiers who fought for, and not against the United States. Confederates have not been recognized by the federal government as US soldiers or veterans and should not be honored on Memorial Day. " Dan pointed out that the Confederates buried in Mount Hope Cemetery had no known association with Greenburgh. They were buried here because their NY Confederate Veterans group comprised of Souther men who moved to NY after the Civil War purchased a plot of land at Mount Hope in the 1890s." The Confederate Soldiers fought for a cause to destroy the United States and to prserve slavery which is deplorable.
an interesting link: www.history.com/news/memorial-day-civil-war-slavery-charleston
https://greenburghny.com/DocumentCenter/View/5992/When- Greenburgh-Went-East-Bound-and-Down-Greenburgh-During- Prohibition
https://greenburghny.com/DocumentCenter/View/6547/Formed-- By-Adversity-and--Held-Together-by-Faith-The-History-of-the- Parkway-Homes-_Parkway-Gardens-Community
About the Authors:
We are both Assistant Town Historians at Greenburgh Town Hall and we are engaged to be married and are currently looking for permanent employment.
I was born and raised in a small rural town in central Pennsylvania. In high school, I took every honors course available including four years of Spanish. I received A’s in all of them. I graduated third in my class of 146 students. This brought me to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Once there, I continued my trend of academic excellence. I graduated summa cum laude in Political Science with a minor in Spanish and a Master’s in Communication Studies, with a G.P.A of 3.94. It was also there that I met my lovely fiancée, Felicia Barber. My Master’s in Communication has promoted public speaking, teamwork, and customer service. My Political Science degree has developed my research skills using computer- based tools and provided me with experience using the Microsoft Office products. My minor in Spanish has facilitated my bilingual capabilities. During my internship at Greenburgh, I created the petition for the State Roads project using website tools. My diverse education and areas of interest have provided me with a wide range of skills. I look forward to finding a career opportunity in business or government. To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to help me find employment, you can contact me at email@example.com
I was born in New York City and raised in Hartsdale, New York. I graduated from Ardsley High School. I recently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. It was here that I met my fiancé, Riley Wentzler. As a result of my academic excellence, I won a scholarship every year. I learned and applied many graphic design skills to projects during my summer internships and at school. I am proficient in using Adobe graphic design applications including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. For my Identity/branding course at Edinboro, I created logos to appear on the tee-shirts of Physical Education majors. For a veteran’s upcoming event, I used a typeface to focus the reader to the soldier in the poster. For the State Roads Legislative Campaign project, I created the embedded graphic-photo that accompanied the petition I am looking for a job to utilize my skills as a Graphic Designer in an agency, print shop, company or government To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about my artwork or to help me find employment you can contact me at email@example.com.
Two Interviews with the authors:
DiLorenzo, K. (2019, March 15). Historians Bring Cemetery’s Past to Light. The Enterprise , p.
Find A Grave. (2019, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). Mount Hope Cemetery. From Find a Grave : https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/65345/mount-hope-cemetery
Grant, U. S. (1886). The Memoirs of Ulysees, S. Grant. Carbondale, IL : Southern Illinois University Press.
History.com Editors . (2011, March 21). Spying in the Civil War. From History.com : https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/civil-war-spies
Mount Hope Cemetery Association. ((2019), (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). Burial. From mounthopecemetery.com: http://www.mounthopecemetery.com/burial--cremation.htm
Mount Hope Cemetery Association. (2019, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). Visit Us. From mounthopecemetery.com: http://www.mounthopecemetery.com/visit-us.html
Raftery, P. (2011). The Cemeteries of Westchester County . Elmsford, NY: Westcheter County Historical Society .
Segal, A. (1961, May 5). Plain Talk: This Confederate Soldier . The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
, p. 6.
The History Channel. (2019, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). Civil War Biographies George B. McClellan. Retrieved from The Battlefield Trust: https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/george-b-mcclellan
The History Channel. (2019, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). Civil War Biographies Henry W. Halleck. Retrieved from The Battlefield Trust: https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/henry-w-halleck
Unknown. (2015, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). How to get from Hastings-on-Hudson, NY to Dobbs Ferry, NY. Retrieved from How to Get From : http://www.howtogetfrom.com/route-from-hastings-on-hudson-ny-to-dobbs-ferry-ny
White Plains Department of Land Records pertaining to a deed, liber #96 p. 160 recorded (1942) March 21 deed of 1/2 acre granted to South Presbyterian Church on February 25 granted by Isaac Lefurgy